GIS Brussels 1865


Cadastre of the city of Brussels

Over the course of the 19th century, P.C. Popp published the cadastral plans and registers of numerous municipalities in Belgium. The maps show a detailed representation of buildings, plots, roads, waterways and other landscape elements. Used in combination with the property descriptions, they constitute an important source for diverse research topics. The cadastre of Brussels published by Popp was fully digitised and converted into a Geographic Information System as part of the POPPKAD project.

Information sheet

Title: Cadastre of the city of Brussels, 1865

Author: Ghent University with the exception of specific sub-collections

Population/Subject: Geographic Information System

Region: Brabant, Belgium

Period: 1865

Number of units: 19 074 plots

Number of variables: 47

Format: CSV, XLS, SHP

Accessibility: No restrictions on top of the general terms and conditions of use of the Quetelet Center, with the exception of the base maps (shapefiles) which are not accessible.

Context of the database

P.C. Popp published the cadastral plans and registers of 1 733 municipalities as part of the Atlas of Belgium. This unique publication is a gold mine for historical geography, industrial archaeology, social history, local history, toponymy and other areas of research. To date, historians and scientists have still not sufficiently exploited the cadastre because of the complexity and scale of the archive. The POPPKAD project was created to open up the cadastre for scientific research. As part of this project, the data on the plans and registers of a number of representative municipalities were fully digitised and linked to Geographic Information Systems. The localities were selected based on their location, size and socio-economic profile.

During the 19th century, Brussels was by far the most important demographic, economic and administrative center of the country. The city experienced a strong population growth after Belgian independence and around 1865 it had a population of 158 000 inhabitants and 16 000 houses. Up until the 1860s, this growth mainly occurred within the administrative boundaries of the city. In this period, the Brussels pentagon (the old town) was a magnet for rich and poor people who, attracted by the prosperity and employment opportunities, found accommodation in a relatively small area.

POPPKAD was funded by the Hercules Foundation and Ghent University.

What data can you find in this database?

The database brings together the following information per plot and landowner:

  • Type of plot (with a building, garden, orchard, etc.)
  • Type of building (dwelling, warehouse, industrial building, etc.)
  • House number of the dwelling
  • Area of the property
  • Cadastral income of the property
  • Name of the owner
  • Occupation of the owner
  • Residence of the owner

The plot maps (scale 1: 1 250) were vectorised and geo-referenced. The GIS base map consists of 43 061 polygons that represent all the plots, buildings, streets, waterways, squares and other topographical elements.

Using the house numbers from the database, it is possible to enrich the property data with data from other sources.

How can you consult data from the database?

The database is managed by the Quetelet Center. Access to the database is subject to particular conditions. The information in the database described above is available for scientific research after approval of an application. Because of copyright and complexity issues, the base maps (shapefiles) are not available. Customised maps can be constructed by the staff at the center and made available in JPG or PDF format on request. Interested parties can contact the staff at the center ( or

Publications based on GIS BRUSSELS

  • Vrielinck, Sven. Grootse plannen: de kadastrale atlas van P.C. Popp: genese en datering (1840-1880). Amsterdam University Press, 2018.